Photo by mikejuinwind123 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by mikejuinwind123 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Several Orange County state lawmakers announced their support Monday for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit state-funded universities and colleges from banning the U.S. flag, as some student government representatives at UC Irvine tried to do last week.

The executive branch of the student government on Saturday vetoed the proposal that would have banned flags from any country in student government offices on the UCI campus. The student government’s legislative branch voted in favor of the ban last Thursday.

The legislative and executive branches will discuss the proposal at 5 p.m. Tuesday, allowing 105 minutes for public comment. Overriding the executive branch’s veto would require a two-thirds majority of the legislative branch.

At a news conference today, multiple state lawmakers decried the ban, including Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, R-Brea, Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen as well as Orange County state Sens. Janet Nguyen, R-Santa Ana, and Patricia Bates, R-San Juan Capistrano, and Assembly members Matt Harper, R- Costa Mesa, Don Wagner, R-Tustin, and Bill Brough, R-San Juan Capistrano.

“I came to this country as an immigrant searching for freedom and democracy and I would not be here today if it were not for the American flag,” Nguyen said.

Pointing to several veterans who attended the news conference, Nguyen said, “The veterans that are with us here today and the thousands of servicemen and women fighting throughout the world deserve for us to make every effort to ensure that the American flag is proudly displayed at public universities and colleges throughout California. That is why we have introduced this Senate Constitutional Amendment.”

Huff said the flag is “more than just the symbol for our country. It’s a reminder to all of us that the freedoms we enjoy in a society like ours are not free. They were bought and paid for by the sacrifice of others. The flag is a symbol of this freedom. Where this flag flies, freedom lives.”

The author of the student government legislation, Matthew Guevara, did not comment on the veto, but said the issue would be debated again Tuesday.

UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman posted a statement online responding to the proposal, saying it was “inevitable” at a university the size of UCI that some students would “express views that are unconventional and even outrageous.”

The chancellor said it was “outrageous and indefensible that (the students who voted for the ban) would question the appropriateness of displaying the American flag on this great campus.”

Gillman lauded the executive branch for its veto.

“We are an institution created by the world’s greatest democracy in order to serve this democracy, and we feel privileged to be able to serve the cause of freedom and progress under the American flag,” Gillman said. “Make no mistake: the American flag proudly flies throughout the University of California, Irvine, including outside my office window, and will continue to do so.”

The student bill listed multiple reasons for banning the flags, including they promote “nationalistic sentiments,” and characterized them as “cultural artifacts.”

The bill went on to read, “Whereas flags construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain, which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy.”

The students also cited “American exceptionalism and superiority,” and said that the country’s flag “has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism.”

The aim of the legislation appeared to be to foster a “culturally inclusive space” in the student government offices.

City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.